Walk The Line (DVD)

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Walk The Line (DVD)

Primarily the story of the love that grew between country stars Johnny Cash and June Carter during the early years of Cash's career, WALK THE LINE is ...

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Review of "Walk The Line (DVD)"

published 02/03/2014 | CelticSoulSister
Member since : 25/10/2009
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About me :
Thanks heartily for all the r/r/c to everyone. If it appears that I've not rated you, it most likely will be due to having used up all your reviews and am waiting for your next publication. Also I've disabled receiving alerts via email for a good reason.
Excellent
Pro Compelling, brilliantly acted, great music, insightful, sensitive
Cons Nothing of significance
exceptional
Did you enjoy it?
Story
Characters / Performances
Special Effects
Soundtrack

"The Man In Black"

RELEASED: 2005, Cert. PG

RUNNING TIME: Approx. 136 mins

DIRECTOR: James Mangold

PRODUCERS: James Keach & Cathy Konrad

SCREENPLAY: Gill Dennis & James Mangold

MUSIC: T Bone Burnett

MAIN CAST:-

Joaquin Phoenix as Johnny cash
Reese Witherspoon as June Carter
Ginnifer Goodwin as Vivian Cash
Robert Patrick as Ray Cash
Shelby Lynne as Carrie Cash
Dallas Roberts as Sam Phillips

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FILM ONLY REVIEW

Adapted in part from Johnny Cash’s self-penned books Man In Black and Cash: The Autobiography, Walk The Line begins with a small insight into Johnny Cash’s early life. When his beloved older brother has an accident and dies from his injuries, Johnny’s already difficult relationship with his father worsens. In order to escape his unhappy home life, he enlists with the Air Force and spends some time in Germany. It is there that Johnny buys his first guitar and composes his first song.

On his return to the USA, Johnny marries Vivian, his childhood sweetheart, and they have a couple of children. The family struggles to make ends meet on Johnny’s low income as a door-to-door salesman, and Vivian is slightly resentful of his practice sessions with his small band.

Johnny and his band approach Sun Records producer Sam Phillips. Sam isn’t initially impressed with their efforts, but he signs them when Johnny performs one of the songs he wrote in Germany….Folsom Prison Blues.

The story then follows through Johnny’s rise to fame and his powerful attraction towards who much later was to become his wife, country singer/performer June Carter.

Johnny’s life moves through the 1950s and 1960s, where he becomes friends with legends such as Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan and Carl Perkins. His drug addiction and fame cause further problems in his marriage to Vivian, and as June Carter continually plays hard to get despite being Johnny’s good friend, he plummets into a downward spiral of heavy drinking and drug addiction.

No matter how much money Johnny made, his sights were always firmly set on the vivacious, attractive June Carter.

The story ends as the 1960s draw to a close, where we see a new Johnny emerging, finding the happiness he had been seeking and which many would say he truly deserved.

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I’ve never really liked country music in general, but Johnny Cash has always been somebody I’ve had a great admiration for, so I was intrigued to see how this film would deal with giving an insight into his life.

Immediately I was gripped, fascinated by the young Johnny Cash and his older brother, the two boy actors giving brilliant performances, despite their roles in the film being brief. I also felt sad for Johnny in that he was constantly put down and made to feel inadequate by his bullying father.

When the film moved into Johnny’s adult life and his climb up the music business ladder, I was a little hesitant at first, wondering how on earth an actor could characteristically nail the country music legend’s persona, but I needn’t have worried as Joaquin Phoenix gives an astonishingly brilliant performance right through. I almost had a lump in my throat at his utterly compelling portrayal of Cash, a man who tried so hard to please everybody, yet was tortured with inner demons that stripped his self-esteem almost down to nothing at times. I don’t know if Joaquin Phoenix received any kind of award for playing the part of Cash, but if he didn’t, he surely deserved a shiny Oscar as he put so very much into what must have been a difficult role to perfect…..he superseded perfection!

Reese Witherspoon is also brilliant as June Carter, the bubbly, charming young woman who Johnny fell in love with at first sight, his unwavering passion for her causing him so much emotional pain.

As far as the music is concerned, I watched and listened with interest as I had a feeling that side of the film may have been its downfall, but I was wrong. The musical performances from Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon were spot-on and utterly faultless….at times I almost felt as though Phoenix was the real Johnny Cash singing and performing. Reese Witherspoon’s singing voice actually is much better than was the real June Carter’s, and I found that very pleasing.

In addition to Johnny Cash’s and June Carter’s performances, there are brief little snatches of actors playing the parts of Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis. The actor chosen to represent Jerry Lee Lewis was fairly close to the real thing, but I do feel the film’s production team perhaps could have found someone a little more convincing to play Elvis. I’m sure there must be hundreds of young Elvis impersonators across the USA who would have been more suitable, but I don’t consider this to be a flaw in the film as the emphasis and focus is on Johnny Cash and June Carter, their music and their relationship.

There are also a couple of snatches of incidental music, consisting of a little Bob Dylan and a tiny dose of my all-time hallowed blues performer, Blind Willie Johnson. I was very impressed with the piece of music that plays the film out whilst the closing credits roll….a lovely guitar piece with a part country, part blues feel.

One thing I always admired about Johnny Cash and which shines through in this film, was his dry wit and wryly accurate observations on the human condition and the people around him….one example being, during a brief conversation with the manager of Folsom Prison, the manager urges Johnny to modulate what he says and sings to the inmates so as not to remind them that they are serving time in prison. Johnny’s reply, spoken in a quietly deadpan voice was…. “You think they forget they are in prison?”

Right from the very first frame of Walk The Line to the last, I was utterly transfixed, lapping up every moment of this wonderful film which is so beautifully acted and directed. Despite it being over two hours long, I was sorry when it came to a close as I just wanted to carry on watching. I would have liked to see the storyline taken further, perhaps into the 1970s and gradually working through the passage of time up until Johnny’s sad death a few years ago, but such would have resulted in a film of ridiculous length, suffice to say that I am more than happy with how it stands.

Walk The Line has certainly wedged itself into my brain, as since I saw it yesterday, I can’t help re-playing parts of it in my mind. I’d go as far as to say it completely overwhelmed me, but in the best possible way. It definitely is a uniquely powerful film where the quality of acting is flawless, with Johnny’s troubled early life being portrayed with a depth and sensitivity which I feel would be impossible to improve upon.

Would I recommend Walk The Line? Absolutely, without any hesitation, as this honestly is one of the very best films I’ve ever seen and I was completely taken by surprise at how carefully and sensitively crafted the whole thing is. I don’t think it is even important to be a Johnny Cash fan or even like him in order to appreciate this film, and for younger people who may not be familiar with “The Man In Black”, it still stands tall and proud as a storyline in itself.

My advice? Hunt down this surprisingly brilliant film and watch it!

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At the time of writing, Walk The Line can be purchased from Amazon as follows:-

New: from 97p to £9.50
Used: from 1p to £7.73
Collectible: only 2 copies currently available @ £11.71 and £14.99 (both appear to be used)

Some DVDs on Amazon are available for free delivery within the UK, but where this doesn’t apply, a £1.26 charge should be added to the above figures.

Thanks for reading!

~~ Also published on Dooyoo under my GentleGenius user name ~~

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Comments on this review

  • IzzyS published 22/03/2014
    I enjoyed this movie too. Thorough review, as ever.
  • GenerallyInterested published 04/03/2014
    excellent.
  • torr published 03/03/2014
    Excellent performances by Phoenix and Witherspoon, agreed. Well reviewed.
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Product Information : Walk The Line (DVD)

Manufacturer's product description

Primarily the story of the love that grew between country stars Johnny Cash and June Carter during the early years of Cash's career, WALK THE LINE is the result of intense collaboration between director James Mangold, co-writer Gill Dennis, Johnny Cash, and June Carter Cash. Though both Cashes died in 2003, they oversaw the script's development for seven years. Mangold and Cash's insistence that the film's stars would actually sing paid off. Witherspoon's singing (as June) is lovely, and Phoenix's contains the raw energy and soul that defined Cash's sound. Even as a child on a cotton farm in Depression-era Arkansas, Cash shows a strong interest in music, escaping from his no-frills life and strict father (Robert Patrick) through hymns and listening to the radio. When his brother dies in a freak accident, young Johnny feels responsible, and worries that he will never live up to his brother's goodness. The film follows Cash through his first marriage with Vivian Cash (Ginnifer Goodwin) and into the early stages of his touring career alongside such musicians as Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, Elvis Presley, and most importantly, June Carter. As Cash's success grows, so does his relationship with drugs, alcohol, and Carter, putting a strain upon his family life. From his initial audition with Sam Phillips of Sun Records on through his legendary 1968 concert at Folsom Prison, Cash is transformed from a hesitant singer riddled with demons to a man whose uniquely bold style would make music history. WALK THE LINE never attempts to paint a full picture of Cash's prolific career, but instead focuses on the passions that drove his music and on the woman who gave him strength. With magical performances by Witherspoon and Phoenix, a haunting and inspiring American romance is brought beautifully to life.

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